In the new year The Future Perfect Company will be changing. Gone will be the shop and instead the emphasis will shift to “Designing for the Future”. And here’s why.
When I opened the shop 6 years ago, it was an attempt to focus on the ageing market. I was in my late 40s and after a legal career in the City was wanting another challenge. I didn’t have far to look. Around me my family and friends’ lives were changing in ways we had not expected. Whilst we had anticipated our older family members’ deaths, many of us had not expected their longer lives. Suddenly many of us were becoming carers for our older family members and whereas our parents might have been responsible for one older parent, suddenly our more complicated extended families were populated by multiple older relatives. And yet our own children were still at home and dependent.
Alongside these juggling acts, we were becoming aware of our own longevity. Pension ages were pushed back, working lives extended. The prospect of an affluent retirement became a pipe dream for many.
So what to do? With a passion for good design, my initial thought was to identify and make available products which could not only “make life easier” (the promise of all assistive products at that time), but also celebrate and enrich these newly found later years.
Six years ago design for ageing was in its formative years. To use a commuting analogy, the train had left the station just about but was still chugging slowly through the outer suburbs with many stops and starts. Much of the rolling stock was dull and uninspiring but the occasional express train rushed by enough times to revive flagging spirits.
When I started The Future Perfect Company the aim was to gather together all the best examples of well designed products available and sell brands such as OXO Good Grips, Healthy Back Bags, Alex lamps as well as commission new products such as the beautiful double handled mugs and teapots made for us by Reckless Designs. At the time this was a pretty revolutionary idea with the market in its infancy. Six years on, there are now some great companies retailing the best of product design for ageing such as Spring Chicken, Designed2Enable, Active Minds and The AbleLabel.
At the same time as running the shop, I have been working on a project called “Designing for the Future” which encourages students to consider the challenges of ageing. Working with the University of Brighton and the College of Richard Collyers, hundreds of students have had exposure to the design challenges posed by an ageing population and produced models, prototypes and drawings of a huge range of products and services to explore, assist and celebrate later life. We have built a network of older users, tutors, industry experts, students as well as early stage designers whom we have supported and encouraged such as Chloe Meineck whose compelling Music Memory Box has its origins in “Designing for the Future”.
So with the retail side being amply catered for by others, we are going to refocus our efforts on supporting the creative people behind the new ideas and design thinking which will enrich and transform our later lives. We also have a couple more projects in the pipeline.
We are always looking for supporters and sponsors to join our “Designing for the Future” network. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.